A Tennessee doctor borrowed a large sum of money from a female patient and then falsely diagnosed her with a mental disorder when she asked for it back, according to a state regulatory commission.
The Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners found Dr. Suellen Lee, 79, of Columbia, guilty last month of “unprofessional, dishonorable or unethical conduct.”
The verdict was handed down after the board found Lee, an internal medicine specialist, borrowed a “substantial amount of money” from a patient to support her medical clinic. When the patient sought repayment of the debt, Lee allegedly diagnosed her with dementia in an apparent attempt to avoid repaying the loan.
Lee made the diagnosis, according to officials, “without any testing method or obtaining a second opinion.”
A monthly disciplinary report from the Tennessee Department of Health does not disclose the amount of money Lee was accused of taking, but the Nashville Tennessean, citing a government attorney, reported she received $300,000.
Evidence against Lee allegedly included a promissory note and assessment of the patient by a state psychologist who found “no indication of dementia,” the disciplinary report reads.
Although she denied any wrongdoing, Lee agreed to retire and voluntarily gave up her license. She was also assessed a civil penalty of $2,000.
In an interview with the Tennessean, Lee claimed she was “set up” by the former patient.
“It was all lies and I was told that if I fought it would be extremely costly to me,” Lee said. “And there would still be no benefit. There was no chance of reversal.”
Lee further claimed she borrowed the money about 20 years ago and has been repaying the debt. She also reportedly stands by the dementia diagnosis, which she claims she made two years ago.
“She wanted to hurt me because she was so angry with me because I had said that she was demented,” Lee told the Tennessean.